• History

  • The Parsons Paris centennial offers a moment to reflect on the school’s transformative approach to design education and the changemakers who have shaped creativity, culture, and industry. Below, you can explore some historical milestones shared by Parsons Paris and its NYC partners — Parsons School of Design and The New School.

  • Parsons Paris Through the Years

    1896 - 2021

    In New York City, William Merritt Chase establishes the Chase School, intended to foster self-expression and experimentation. Open enrollment courses, offered year round, include drawing, painting, composition, illustration, architecture, and design.

    Educator Frank Alvah Parsons is named director of the school now called Parsons School of Design. His mission: To champion the democratization of design education.

    The New School for Social Research is founded by James Harvey Robinson, Charles Beard, and others. They envision an educational system with an open curriculum, minimal hierarchy, and free discussion of ideas timely and controversial.

    Frank Alvah Parsons and alumnus William Odom initiate a satellite school  — the Paris Ateliers — at 9 Place des Vosges on the city’s oldest planned square. Courses in architecture, decorative arts, and costume design are offered, and the Ateliers represent the first international branch for an American school.

    Van Day Truex receives a scholarship to the Paris Ateliers after two years of study in NYC at what is now Parsons. He then becomes a faculty member and later the head of the Paris Ateliers. (In 1943, he becomes the head of Parsons in NYC, and in 1955 he is made president of Tiffany and Co.)

    Celebrated interior designer Jean-Michel Frank leads Paris Ateliers students to create what is now known the world over as the Parsons Table, a piece whose equal dimensions make it easy to produce in a range of materials. Shown is an early example, photographed later by student George Chinsee.

    War closes the Paris Ateliers from fall 1939 until 1948.

    Then known as the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, Parsons in NYC takes its current name in honor of the school’s influential longtime director.

    The Paris Ateliers reopen, enabling students to engage with an industrializing world and apply design in new ways to meet its demands. Meanwhile, Parsons in NYC partners with NYU to begin offering Bachelor of Science degrees. 

    Celebrated French couturier Christian Dior attends classes in Paris, critiquing fashion design projects and sharing with students such as George Yazbek and Alda Balestretti (shown here) his innovative construction techniques. He follows Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, and Jean Patou as a visitor to help guide fashion students. 

    Parsons School of Design becomes part of The New School and awards the country's first university degrees in fashion design, interior design, and lighting design.

    Fashion designer Marc Jacobs spends time at the Paris campus and later graduates in NYC with the Designer of the Year Award. Two years later, he launches his eponymous collection, and in 1987 he becomes the youngest designer ever to receive his industry's highest tribute, the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent.

    Parsons’ reputation and long history in Paris enable students to learn from leading creative practitioners. In this photograph from 1990, designer Hubert de Givenchy explains fashion techniques and shares industry insights with students in Paris.

    Parsons Paris is relaunched as an academic branch of The New School and Parsons, offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees and an uncommonly cross-disciplinary approach to education. Working directly with faculty-practitioners, students in the city’s center engage with creative problem solving related to critical issues including climate change and emerging business models and technology.

    Parsons School of Design is ranked #1 among U.S. art and design colleges and #3 in the world by the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings. Parsons retains these premier rankings consistently since.

    The Parsons Paris community gathers in celebration, introducing the new Parsons Paris Advisory Board and raising funds for scholarships and other needs.

    Two years later, Parsons Paris celebrates its centennial and Parsons in NYC commemorates its 125th anniversary.

  • Our First Century

    Parsons School of Design has maintained a presence in Paris since 1921, when Frank Alvah Parsons first established the Paris Ateliers of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art. 

    In its earliest year, the school offered courses in the decorative arts, architecture, scenography, and costume design and counted Elsie de Wolfe and Edith Wharton among its patrons.

    In 1930, Jean-Michel Frank’s students at the school created the Parsons Table, an icon of modern design popular to this day. In response to the coming war, the school closed in Paris in 1939 but was reopened in 1948 and has welcomed international students in Paris ever since. And in 1970, Parsons merged with The New School, a university founded in 1919 by a group of eminent scholars dedicated to the social sciences, humanities, and arts and mindful of the global context.

    In 2013, the university re-established an academic center, Parsons Paris, to offer students a learning center in which to prepare for creative paths that increasingly interlace the world. Tim Marshall, then the university’s provost, described the initiative in these terms:  "We set about to ‘design a design school' that could operate more deftly and strongly in the New School context, and — more broadly — that would have the agility to respond to, anticipate, and lead dynamic changes in the art and design professions and in the academy." By design, the educational programming places students and faculty within a dense network of colleagues that effectively responds to dramatic global shifts in demographics, economics, and culture. 

    Over the years, Parsons Paris has evolved to offer an array of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs spanning art and digital design, fashion design and fashion studies, and strategic design and management. Likewise, the campus has grown to include new making spaces and classrooms in Paris-Romainville, a contemporary art and cultural hub in Greater Paris.

  • Contact Us

    Parsons Paris
    45 rue Saint-Roch
    75001 Paris, France
    +33 (0)
    Email us for information

    Parsons School of Design
    Office of Admission
    72 Fifth Avenue,
    2nd floor
    New York, NY 10011

  • Take The Next Step

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Undergraduate Adult Learners

To apply to any of our Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students and Parsons Associate of Applied Science programs, complete and submit the New School Online Application.


To apply to any of our Master's, Doctoral, Professional Studies Diploma, and Graduate Certificate programs, complete and submit the New School Online Application.